The Acropolis


Elmer Boyce
Architecture 110
Professor Boestler
02 November 2000
The Athenian Acropolis
The Acropolis of Athens has stood as a monument of triumph to the people of Athens for centuries past. The temples within its walls were used to worship Greek gods like Athena and Poseidon. Rising over three hundred feet above the city of Athens, it can clearly be seen why it is called the Acropolis, which loosely translated means top of city. It isn't the only acropolis in Greece, but it is revered more than the others because of its almost flawless planning in where each building is placed. It took two hundred years of experimenting to get it right. Each building is placed specifically to be pleasing to the viewer's eye. From the viewer's point of view every building is seen in perspective, and at no point from the entrance is one building seen from only one facade. This is what made the Acropolis at Athens so amazing. What makes the Acropolis even more amazing is the buildings within its walls. There is the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, the temple of Athena Nike, and more.
After ascending nearly three hundred feet up the hill you come to what is called the Propylaia. The Propylaia is the entrance to the Acropolis and was used to prepare worshipers before entering the gates to the temples within. Construction began on the Propylaia in 437 B.C. and was completed in 432 B.C. The architect of the Propylaia was Mnesikles, and the project was anything but easy with the narrowness of space and the irregular terrain. Despite these obstacles he was successful in creating a harmonious entrance. Asymmetrically arranged buildings created the propylaia. The most important of these buildings was the Pinakotheke on the north side with contained the art gallery. The Propylaia has an outer and inner facade, both supported by six Doric columns with five doors between them, the largest door was located in the middle. Further within the Propylaia, there are Ionic columns, which helped support the roof. These columns were used rather than the Doric columns similar to the outer columns because of space restraints. Also constructed of load bearing walls the Propylaia was entirely constructed out of white marble. These load-bearing walls were the walls of the Pinakotheke and were covered with painted panels or wall paintings. This propylaia wasn't the first on that site. The original entrance gate was smaller and was destroyed in the Persian fire in 480 B.C. After being prepared in the propylaia, you would enter a central courtyard overlooking the immense bronze statue of,the Champion, Athena Promachos. This statue was so large that the sun could be seen glimmering off the tip of its spear from out at sea.
To the left you would see the Erechtheion in its white marble glory, whose site lay north of the Parthenon. This building too, like the Propylaia dealt with irregular terrain, but took it in a different perspective. Instead of leveling the land, which was too sacred to touch, they built the Erechtheion in levels to accommodate the steep change in elevation. Built sometime between 421 B.C. and 405 B.C., the Erechtheion housed shrines to several gods, local deities, and heroes. It was also the site of several sacred spots, including the mark of Poseidon's trident spear, the graves of the legendary Erechtheus and Kekrops, but most importantly it housed the temple of Athena Polias, protectress of the city and goddess of the hearth. Each level of the Erechtheion had a specific purpose. To the east, from higher terrain is a six-column Ionic porch that housed the ancient wooden image of Athena. At the north is another Ionic porch that leads to the chamber of Erechtheus. The sacred olive tree of Athena is located in an open courtyard in the west of the Erechtheion. And finally to the south is the resting place of the legendary King Kekrops. The Porch of the Caryatids covers this gravesite. This porch is what makes the building stand out other than its unusual land layout. The porch is supported by six maiden figures used as columns with the crowns on their heads being the capitals. Also within the frieze of the Erechtheion is to be believed a relief carving of the birth of Erechtheus. The Erechtheion